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Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 17th August

This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that Hannah Elwyn gave on August 16th. It lasts around 80 minutes, but feel free to extend sections, remove sections, add your own or just do your own thing entirely! Whatever works best for you and your group.

The discussion questions and reflections will work without having listened to the talk, but if you are going to use them you may want to send out the following links to your group so they can listen before you meet:

Hannah’s talk

Tips for hosting Connect Group online

  • Make sure you are online a few minutes before the start of the group so that you are there to welcome people as they arrive. 
  • If you have a lot of people in the group, you may want to ask everyone to keep their mic muted unless they are talking in order to keep background noise to a minimum. 
  • In the Gratitude & Concerns round where you want everyone to speak in turn you will need to let people know who is next. We’ve found it helpful to be very active in directing this, and to ask people to end with something like ‘Thanks for letting me share’ (very STEPS!) so you know when they are finished:
    •  Group Leader: ‘X is next then Y.”
    •  X: “… thanks for letting me share.”
    • Group Leader: “Thanks for sharing X. Y is next then Z”.
    • Just make it clear that people are welcome to say ‘pass’ if they’d rather not share.
  • If your group is small enough, during the discussion you may want to suggest people unmute their mics so they can jump in when they want. This will help discussion flow more easily. With large groups you may need to keep people’s mics muted unless they are talking. This will take more active moderation – we’ve found it helpful to ask people to raise their hand when they want to speak, then wait for the moderator to bring them into the conversation. 
  • If your platform has a chat function, make use of that by pasting discussion questions, relevant quotes or Bible verses, and the links to the talk. You may also want to ask people to write their prayer requests, which could be emailed around after the meeting. 
  • Have the link for your next group available to share. 
  • You might also want to think about planning a short group chat either directly before or after one of the services as a way of offering another touch point for your group and to make it feel like you’re ‘going to church together.’ 

Note: Read out everything in italics. You may want to post these in the chat too. 

Welcome & Prayer (5 mins)

Welcome everyone to the group and remind people of the following: 

  • As a general rule it’s helpful to keep your mic muted unless you’re talking to reduce background noise. 
  • During the discussion if you want to speak, raise a hand and I’ll throw the conversation to you. 
  • We’ll be using the chat function to post links, quotes, Bible verses and prayer requests. 

Start your time together by praying, thanking God for the opportunity to be together and asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together (you may want to ask someone else to pray).

Gratitude & Challenges (15-25 mins)

Ask everyone to introduce themselves and share one thing from the last week they are grateful for, and one thing they are finding particularly challenging. 

Don’t forget to make it clear who is to share next, and to let people know they can pass if they want to. 

Overview & Group discussion (30 mins)

On Sunday Hannah continued our current teaching series ‘Living by Faith’ which is working through the faith stories of the people mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11. This week Hannah spoke about Joshua and Jericho:

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.” Hebrews 11:30

God promised Joshua that He would give him and the Israelites ‘every place where you set your foot’ (Joshua 1:3). He told him, ‘as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them’ (Joshua 1:5b-6).

Joshua did indeed go onto lead the people into their inheritance, but it wasn’t a frictionless experience. It required battle after battle, starting with the military outpost of Jericho. In one of the most well known but most bizarre military tactics in the bible, God has the Israelite army walk around the walled city once a day for six days, and then seven times on the seventh. With a trumpet blast from the priests and a shout from the people, the wall collapsed and the Israelite army charged straight in to take the city. (Joshua 6:1-20)

Hannah reminded us that whilst our own faith battles may be very different, we too have Jericho walls in our lives that God wants to bring down. To see that happen we too need to trust in what God has said, and obey him.

Share with the group times in your own life where you have had to trust and obey God, even in the face of opposition, delay, or confusion. This may be a past experience, or something your are living in right now. Hannah spoke about her own experience of holding onto the words and promises of God recorded in the Bible whilst living in the season between promise and inheritance. She shared two scriptures that are particularly meaningful to her are:

“The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” Psalm 145:13b

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Share with one another bible verses or passages that have been particularly meaningful and helpful to you. If you feel comfortable, you may want to share the context around it as well as what it is about the verse/s that have helped you hold onto the goodness and promises of God in tough seasons.

Meditation (5 mins)

You may want to encourage people to close their eyes, sit up straight in their chairs, place their palms face up on their knees/table and concentrate on their breathing – breathe in for 3 seconds, then out for 3 seconds (people may feel more comfortable doing this if their video feed is turned off).

Read Psalm 145:13b over and over under your breath for a few minutes, committing it to memory and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you through it:

“The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.”

Prayer (10 mins)

Move into a time of prayer for one another, for the church, for London and the UK, and the world. You may want to take the bible verses people have mentioned and turn them into prayers back to God.